Judy Cornish and Joyce Gunhouse (Comrags)Judy Cornish, fashion designer (b at Toronto 19 Feb 1958), and Joyce Gunhouse, fashion designer (b at Montréal 26 Aug 1961).
Joyce Gunhouse was raised in Victoria, BC. At age 6 she won a competition for design, which would develop into a lifelong passion for illustrating. She attended the University of Victoria (fine art and theatre) for one year. Her interest in fashion illustration, however, led her to move to Toronto in 1980 to further her education.
Judy Cornish grew up in Burlington, Ont. She attended university in Peterborough, then travelled to Europe and lived in Calgary for 2 years. After her time away, Cornish returned to Toronto and began her studies at Ryerson Polytechnic. In 1982, while attending university, she apprenticed under designer Lida Baday at Kira Fashions.
Gunhouse and Cornish met while attending the Fashion Arts Programme at Ryerson (1980-83), where they both studied fashion design. Sharing a similar design vision and work ethic, they began collaborating on a few outfits that were shown to close friends and co-workers at Larry's Hideaway, a punk club where Cornish worked. Among the crowd were owners of the independent retail store Metropolis. The owners commissioned a few dresses from the designers and allowed them to sell the pieces on consignment. In addition, the shop owners rented out part of their studio to Cornish and Gunhouse, allowing them to develop their own line. In August of 1983, Cornish and Gunhouse established their Comrags label, whose style of sportswear is modern, feminine and slightly romantic. The label is distributed across Canada and has been exported to markets including the US, Asia and the Middle East.
The designers returned to Ryerson for a 2-year term in 1991 to instruct fashion design students. That same year, Cornish and Gunhouse received the Designer of the Year Award from the City of Toronto. Other awards include a Gold Award from the Festival of Canadian Fashion (1987) for their collection video entitled Road to Utopia.
In March 1997 Gunhouse and Cornish, along with partner Kelly Mansell, opened the Comrags flagship store on Queen Street West in Toronto.